Humans and other thinking beings can represent the world. My cat knows which cupboard her food is in: she has a mental representation of that state of affairs. Given that I believe that she knows where her food is, I have a mental representation of her mental representation. I also know where it is, and I know that I know that: I have a mental representation of my own mental representation about the food’s location. What is more, using language I can describe all of these facts about representations.
The capacity to think and talk about representations, that is, to represent representations or metarepresent, is a species characteristic of human beings. All developmentally normal human beings, across all cultures, metarepresent, and with considerable facility; and metarepresentation is a central property of both human language use and human thought. [...]
The original research has been published in Routledges' Handbook of Pragmatics. The publication can be found at this URL: https://www.routledge.com/The-Routledge-Handbook-of-Pragmatics/Barron-Gu-Steen/p/book/9780415531412